During Covid-19 Lockdown many people took to the kitchen and embarked on delicious recipes and this was an achievement. I was quite happy to have time off from baking. Instead, I escaped to the mountains carefully led by Freda Du Faur.
Miss Freda Du Faur was the first woman to climb Aoraki / Mt Cook. She climbed many peaks in the Mt Cook region, at a time when any strenuous exercise was considered un-lady-like. When it was necessary for high altitude bivouacs (basic camping) it was essential that she was not alone with one male guide. In order to maintain her reputation, it was necessary for a 2nd person (yes, male again) to accompany them. On one occasion a male porter from the Hermitage Hotel was roped in as chaperone.
I knew that mountaineers have a very early start to their day, to get to the summit in plenty of time to get back down again before conditions change. Breakfast was often 2:00 or 3:00am, prior to setting off in the dark. After some hours climbing they would enjoy a second breakfast at a “normal” time.
At 8.40am on 3 December 1910 Freda Du Faur achieved her goal and summited Aoraki / Mt Cook, ably guided by legendary Alpine Guides – Peter Graham and Alec Graham.
There are many black & white images in the book, including one almost identical to this panorama which we proudly display above our log fire.
Freda visited Westland in February 1910, hiking/climbing the “shortcut” over the Main Divide (the Southern Alps) crossing to the West Coast and back via the Copland Pass. There was, and still is, no road between Mt Cook village and the glacier townships in South Westland.
At that stage the Franz Josef township was in its infancy, known then as Waiho Gorge.
Freda fell in love with the Southern Alps and you might too, just as Freda did over 100 years ago.